Dr. Eric Vilain appointed as new ISG director

See news article at: http://today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/fbb-post.aspx?id=4010

UCLA College of Letters and Science

Office of the Dean of Life Sciences
2300 Murphy Hall

Dear Colleagues

It is with great pleasure that I announce Dr. Eric Vilain as the new Director for the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics.  Dr. Vilain has been an integral part of the Institute from its inception, and he is well positioned to lead the Institute to a new level of excellence with his pioneering research at the intersection of genetics and society.

Eric Vilain, M.D., Ph.D., was born in Paris, France, and earned his M.D. from the Paris Children’s Hospital Necker and his Ph.D. from the Pasteur Institute in Paris. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Medical Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Dr. Vilain is Professor of Human Genetics, Pediatrics, and Urology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the Chief of Medical Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics and the Director of the Center for Gender-Based Biology. He is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics and a member of numerous professional committees, including those related to the care of intersex individuals.

Eric’s laboratory explores the genetics of sexual development, focusing on the molecular mechanisms of gonad development as well as on the genetic determinants of brain sexual differentiation, including sexual orientation and gender identity. He has identified a large number of mutations in sex-determining genes, developed animal models with atypical sexual development, and identified genes differentially expressed between male and female fetal brains.

The societal consequences of Eric’s discoveries have led him to intervene in a variety of public arenas, including the question of female athletes eligibility at the Olympic games and in the NCAA College championships, the role of genetics in arguments around sexual orientation and marriage, and the controversies around gender assignment and genital surgeries for babies born with ambiguous genitalia.

We want to thank Professor Norton Wise, Professor of History, who is leaving his position as Director of the Institute for Society and Genetics.  Norton served as founding co-director along with Dr. Ed McCabe, and then as Director of the Institute.  He oversaw the recruitment of four new faculty members, seven additional joint faculty, and numerous faculty affiliates, and been critical in the creation of the minor in Society and Genetics, and a just-approved major in Human Biology and Society.  Professor Wise is internationally known for his research in the history of sciences especially the history of physics from late 18th -20th Centuries.  He brought his perspective on the co-evolution of science and society into the Institute as an organizing intellectual framework for research and education.  We are happy that Norton can now devote his full energies to research knowing that he has provided an excellent foundation for Dr. Vilain to lead the Institute into its next phase of development.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Vilain to his new position.


Victoria L. Sork

Dean, Life Sciences

UCLA College of Letters and Sciences

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